Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Best time to visit in spring


Recommended Posts

We're planning a trip for this spring. The idea is to fly to Seattle ( maybe), and from there have a road trip.

The trip itself was inspired by the last Gourmet editorial about all these berries and mushrooms, and other incredible

edibles. Please, can you help me with time and must-visit places.

And what about Herbfarm?

thanks, hs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At any time in the spring it could be sunny, warm, and beautiful, or it could be gray, chilly, and wet.  That's life in the Pacific Northwest.  But there's plenty to see and eat either way;  just bring a raincoat.

I haven't done the Herbfarm (waiting for someone else to pick up the tab), but by all accounts it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience like the French Laundry.  Not that the food is the same, but you're not going to find a similar place anywhere else.  I've met chef Jerry Traunfeld a number of times and eaten some of his cooking at trade shows, and he clearly deserves his hype.  Reserve as far in advance as you can.

As far as places to go to pick berries and gather mushrooms, I'm not the expert.  I know Blue Heron and her husband have done some mushroom hunting.  Any ideas, BH?  Helena, give us an idea of what you like to eat, or some of your favorite restaurants elsewhere, and we'll be glad to recommend some restaurants in Seattle, Portland, and nearby.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spring (beginning Apr-May) is morel mushroom season.  Since they like to grow in burned out areas, perhaps Leavenworth (a couple hrs from Seattle) might be a place to find them this Spring. Here is an interesting link: Seattle PI article on local Morels

The other mushrooms like Chantrelles and Boletus are found in fall.

Summer is berry season.

To see when various local berries are in season, here is a link:  WA state farmer's markets   When the site comes up, clink on 'links', then click on 'Puget Sound Fresh', then 'what's fresh now' for the calendar.  Our neighbor's go up in the Cascade mountains every summer and pick wild huckleberries, and then bring us home made huckleberry jam, yum!

If you get out our way, I also recommed a side trip to Eastern WA, which is a totally different experience than Seattle.  It's dry and desert-like, and home of some wonderful Washington State wineries:  Washington State Wineries   and also wonderful produce stands with some of the freshest peaches and apricots you can imagine.   Any chance you can come in summer?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope a road trip also means a ferry trip or two. The nearby islands offer wonderful food and magnificent views on the way. You should also plan for some time in Vancouver,B.C. for the restaurant meals and the Asian markets. Once your schedule is firmed up,I'm sure everyone will have specific tips  for you including what not to miss at Pike Place Market. My friend who worked at The Herbfarm had nothing but raves for the experience,but you do need both money and time. Portland has food, wine and farmers' markets,as well. It would be hard to have a bad time in the Northwest and most of us would be glad to act as tour guide.

Judy Amster

Cookbook Specialist and Consultant

amsterjudy@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

helena,

If you are in the Seattle area anytime from about Apr.5-21, I also highly recommend a side visit to Skagit Valley (60 miles north of Seattle) for the Tulip Festival.  That area rivals Holland for the production of tulips and daffodils (the daffodils come 2-3 weeks or so before the tulips).  It's absolutely beautiful when in full bloom   Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

I've never eaten at the Herb Farm.  I've read both good things and bad things about them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks guys,

but now i'm even more confused. Should we come for morels/tulips in spring or for berries in summer? Do you have any time that there are still morels, but some berries start to appear?

I agree that Herfarm is too expensive, let the book be my consolation, but what about Dahlia Lounge? Is it wothwhile?

- hs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our weather is unpredictable in any season, but if I had to recommmend a time for you to come, and you had a choice of either spring or summer, I would recommend summer.  That said, spring can also be very nice, but the chances of rain & cold are much higher.  I actually like it here around springtime and wintertime, as I get the beach to myself when I take a walk (in the rain).

This is our first year in the Seattle Mycological Society, but I've heard morels are extremely difficult to find, even for veteran mushroom pickers.  I've never gone wild berry picking, except for blackberries (which come in August).  Blackberries grow wild everywhere on almost every street corner it seems.  People have to cut them back as they would take over the whole yard.  Our next door neighbors grow raspberries, but mostly we just buy them & other berries at the farmer's market or grocery store.  There are many local farms where one can U-pick, and that is also fun.  Or one can head up to the Cascade mountains and pick berries while hiking.   Maybe someone who has picked wild berries can help you out more than I.

I haven't had the pleasure of dining at Dahlia, but I've been to Etta's, one of Tom Douglas' other restaurants and like it.  Here is a link to an earlier discussion of recommended restaurants to take visitors to in Seattle (and Dahlia was listed by papachef):  Favorite place to take visitors in Seattle

I hope you have a great trip.  Let us know when your plans are firmed up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

helena--What kind of weather do you like?  The Pacific Northwest has perfectly sunny days for most of the summer.  You might get lucky with sun in the spring, but if you don't want it to be gray throughout your vacation, come in the summer.  That said, I prefer to travel on the off-season and grew up with the spring weather here.  The weather in southern California (even without the smog) knocks me off-kilter, but I feel right at home in London.

Dahlia and Etta's are both great choices.  I prefer the menu at Etta's, although Etta's can be packed with tourists if that's a concern.  If you're looking for a place that concentrates on Northwest ingredients, try Cascadia;  I haven't been there, but I know Steve Klc thinks highly of the chef.

Tom Douglas restaurants:  http://www.tomdouglas.com/

Cascadia: http://www.cascadiarestaurant.com/

I wish I could tell you more about foraging, but I'm out of the loop.  Seems like there must be someone among my ecology program buddies at school who knows all about it--I'll ask around.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Helena,

That Gourmet piece was actually about Portland, not Seattle (neener, neener, neener to our neighbor to the north). Both places offer much the same seasonal foods, altho’ Seattle is more cosmopolitan, but the Seattle-ites advice will pretty much translate to Portland.

The Portland Farmers Market opens in April, and it’s the best place to get local produce and wild mushrooms. Depending on the weather, morels should start to appear in late May or early June. I agree with the other posters that the fall mushrooms are better, and they actually start to show up in mid-summer (July rain will cause boletus to pop in the mountains).

Local strawberries are also a May-June crop, and raspberries start in June-July. Blueberries are typically available up to mid-August or so.

There are several incredibly good restaurants here and a lot of others that are better than most. Guliano Bugialli called Genoa “the best Italian restaurant in the US.” (full disclosure: Genoa buys Don Alfonso olive oil from me)

You can also spend a day or two in the wine country south of Portland (and for about $800 there’s the 3-day International Pinot Noir Festival, but they hold a lottery to see who gets tickets).

Both places are great food towns, and most of us can agree that we eat better here than almost anywhere else inthe country. But no matter what time of year you come, bring your umbrella.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some intangible way, Portland continues to be a better restaurant city than Seattle. ÊI suspect it may have something to do with the UGB, but that's my explanation for everything.

Portland has better pizza (I'd take Escape from NY over anything I've had in Seattle), to start with, and its fine dining establishments seem to have more local spirit and be less influenced by thirdhand whispers of east-coast trends than the Belltown set. ÊWe have nothing like Castagna, Genoa, or Cafe Des Amis here, as far as I know (but I'd be delighted if someone proved me wrong). ÊI hate to dis the Emerald city, and I'm not moving back to Portland anytime soon, but if you gave me a weekend free eating pass, I'd spend it in the Rose City every time.

Then again, Portland has nothing like Osteria La Spiga, Herbfarm, or Etta's, so maybe I'm just playing grass-is-greener.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

One thing Portland does better is Grand Central Bakery.  Strange, since it originated in Seattle.  Seattle has the one inconveniently located store in Pioneer Square.  I assume it's convenient if you work downtown, but I don't, and if you go at the end of the day all the good stuff is gone.

Portland, though, has a location on SE Hawthorne, one in NE by Lloyd Center, and another store on SW Multnomah.  And they have all the goodies: jammers, cinnamon rolls, scones, cheese rolls, Fresh Herb Bread, rosemary rolls...

We can get Grand Central bread at the QFC on our street, but they only carry the basic loaves, none of these treats.  I've been meaning to write a letter to GCB and ask when they'll open a store on Capitol Hill (preferably), in Ballard, Wallingford, or some other pleasant neighborhood.

They used to have a small store in Bellevue, not far from Bellevue Square, but it closed down.

http://www.grandcentralbakery.com/ourstores.html

Hungry Monkey May 2009
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My husband's favorite Seattle bread is the Grand Central Bakery Campagnolo, so that's what I usually buy.  I love their Como, which is even better toasted.  I had no idea they had stores in Portland, too, or about those other items they carry in Portland.  The cheese rolls sound really good!  I never get to their bakery in Pioneer Square either.  I buy their bread at the grocery store.

For anyone intersted in architecture, as a side note only, Mrs. Bassetti, the founder of Grand Central Bakery, is the wife of well respected architect Frank Bassetti, founder of Bassetti Architects located in Seattle, Wa.  I met him once, he's a pleasant fellow! These are their numerous projects (which include Gateway Tower, Seattle City Hall, Redmond Library: Bassetti Architects

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Portland Grand Central empire is run by a couple of Ms. Bassetti's children, Ben & Piper, and they have the full lineup of breads as well as other goodies. Piper spent several months developing a croissant that's now available.

My daily GC item is the inappropriately named panini, which came from an old Italian recipe called pane di treno. This train bread is a yeast dough roll with raisins and fennel seeds, and I altered my bike route to work after the NE store opened so I could stop by and pick one up every morning.

We are quite spoiled here in Portland when it comes to bread. Besides Grand Central, we have the Pearl Bakery and newcomer Ken's Artisan Bakery, both making slow-proofed and incredibly good bread.

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the greatest road trips I ever navigated started in Seattle and followed the shoreline of the Olympic Penninsula and then onward along the Washington, Oregon and Northern California Coast to San Francisco.

I don't have my notes handy but all sorts of surprises along the way - a couple of microbreweries back when they were a rarity, a lodge on, I think, Crescent Lake, the Native American Indian Reservation at the tip of the penninsula, all manner of great home cooking and wonderful pies, oysters and more oysters, a Mexican restaurant where I saw a 3 year old bite into his first chili pepper and react accordingly and in total honesty (he bawled for at least 15 minutes), and once in Northern California, a town overun by Marin county bikers in their designer leathers with matching hip pouches.

Have a great trip.  I'm hoping on repeating mine this year or next.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't been to that resort on Cresent Lake but I did drive around the lake and it's absolutely gorgeous.  My brother and I went on a road trip last summer around the Olympic coast (to find a decent spot to surf) and I absolutely fell in love with the peninsula.  We stopped for lunch at the Lake Quinault Lodge where they had an all you can bbq on the lake front with salmon, burgers, all sorts of salads and sweet corn.  It also happened to be a gorgeous day and the lake and resort were really beautiful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...